#askthecurators Dodo Roadshow Special

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On Saturday we had a very special visitor to our What’s in Store: The Curator’s Choice exhibition. As part of their roadshow from Land’s End to John O’Groats, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History brought their world famous dodo to Tullie House.

IMG_6130TF and Oxford team IMG_6132We took the opportunity to get a a few of our questions answered by the dodo’s minders, Paul, the Museum’s Director, Phil, Collections Assistant and Michelle, from the Front of House team.

mauritius

Where and when did dodos live?
Dodos lived in Mauritius which is a small island east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, famous for it’s white, sandy beaches. Dodos were discovered in 1598 by Dutch sailors.

Why did dodos become extinct?
It is a common misconception that dodos were hunted to extinction. They were hunted but when the Dutch discovered Mauritius they settled and introduced pigs to the island. The pigs competed with the dodo for their food (fruit) and also dodos nested on the ground and the pigs ate their eggs. The dodo was extinct by 1662 – less than 70 years after it was discovered!

Andrew Pickett with real dodo foot 1What did dodos eat?
Dodos are thought to have predominantly eaten fruit.

Do you think we’ll ever find dodos living somewhere else we haven’t looked yet?
No – they are gone for ever.

Cast of dodo head and skin 3

Are there lots of dodos in museums?
There are quite a few casts and models but only a handful of specimens were brought to Europe. Museums in Cambridge and London have fossils, but Oxford University NHM has one of the few specimens that arrived in Europe. Another real skull is in a museum in Copenhagen.

How do we know about dodos?
Dodos were easy to catch being flightless. If one was caught it would scream and others would come running making them an easy catch. We now know, from DNA analysis, that dodos were members of the pigeon family.

A huge thank you to our guests and their star exhibit. They also asked some questions about our 1840 Portinscale red kites – you can see the answers on their blog

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Posted on June 15, 2015, in Collections, Exhibitions and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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